This Video Captured a Massive Iceberg Breaking off a Glacier

It was half the size of Manhattan.

The calving front of the Helheim glacier.NASA/Wallops

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

This story was originally published by Atlas Obscura and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

This past June, late one night, a team of scientists camped out on a fjord in Greenland heard a roar. When icebergs are born, they fill the ocean with noise, and the Helheim Glacier was cracking. The researchers saw, LiveScience reports, “puffs of ice” tossed into the air as a new iceberg began to break off from the glacier. They began filming, and the result is here, a sped-up version of an iceberg calving:

In real time, it took 30 minutes for an iceberg four miles long to break off and float away into the sea. It’s hard to get a sense of scale from the video, but the researchers pointed out in a statement that this iceberg would cover most of Lower and Midtown Manhattan. It’s a tabular iceberg, long and flat; in the video, you can also see tall, thin pinnacle icebergs crack off and flip over.

Helheim Glacier, named after Hel, the Viking realm of the dead, is the fastest flowing glacier on the eastern side of the Greenland Ice Sheet, NASA says. But even though the icebergs tossed into the sea here are contributing to sea level rise, scientists still don’t know exactly how such break-ups work. “The calving process itself is relatively poorly observed, understood, and modeled,” wrote David Holland, one of the scientists who captured the video, in a 2016 paper. This video captures data about calving events that can be used to better understand break-ups like these.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate